There’s never been a more considerable understatement than the social media status ‘it’s complicated.’ When it comes to men in my life, ‘it’s complicated’ started earlier than I have memories. When I look back over the years, I can draw lines in the sand at the events that changed the trajectory of my world. The lines did not stand out for me until after I was 50 years old.
The First Line in the Sand
I was born Angie Roberts in the little town of Van Buren, Arkansas, in the early 1960s. It didn’t take my mom, a teenage bride, but just a couple of years to figure out she had made a colossal mistake, and the best thing for her baby girl was to get a D-I-V-O-R-C-E. WOW. In the early 60s, that took some guts.
In addition to the environment of the 1960s, my mom’s family did not have money or education and didn’t own a home. This combination shows her strength to walk away from a scary situation at such a young age without much support.
Mom was the oldest of 7 children, and I was blissfully ignorant growing up as the 8th child; in addition to being loved by my mother and grandparents, I was cherished by my Aunt Charlene and adored by my five uncles. Looking back, it was shocking at the dysfunctional and toxic world my mother’s family lived in and, by association, me. But not understanding was a gift.
Another Line in the Sand
One sunny day, a very handsome man by the name of Fay Blount was discharged from the Army. Not long after his arrival home, he went to eat at the Nations Drive-In, where my mom was waitressing, and caught his eye. He was wrapped around her finger the minute he walked in the door.
This handsome, dirt-poor factory worker chose to have an instant family. There was not enough money for legal adoption, so they just called me Angie Blount. I felt safe, supported, and loved.
The Lines Get Deeper
One day, when I was seven years old, I was playing with the little girl next door at my grandparents’ house. She had a TON of toys! When I asked my mother why she had so many toys, she said she had two daddies. I immediately wanted two daddies! That’s the day my mother broke the news to me. I had another daddy! She reached out to him, but he said: “he did not have a child and wanted nothing to do with me.” She, of course, did not tell me that part. It was after I became a grandmother that I learned the fact that he didn’t want to see me.
When mom was 26, she had a complete hysterectomy. This event meant I would never have a sibling. But the awful part of that event was that they did not give this 26-year-old woman any hormones. This same period was punctuated by the fact that my grandparents got a divorce.
Our family was emotionally comprised most of the time that year. It was tough. Fay Blount stayed by my side, the father figure I would always know and remember. He would say, “I’m going out the door. Who’s going with me?” We would fish on Clear Creek or the Arkansas River, go to Paul’s Bakery for maple bars, and visit family all around town. I loved going anywhere with that man! My favorite summer memories were spent at Blue Mountain Lake camping, swimming, and fishing with the man who was always showing me how to live by going out the door.
The Canyon in the Sand
Less than two years later, when I was 12, the deepest line was drawn in the sand, forever changing my life. My daddy worked for General Tire and Rubber Company. It was a company picnic, and we were playing baseball. He and I were in the outfield when he said, “Go get your mother.” As I headed towards Mom, I heard a scream and turned to see him on the ground. At 31 years old, he had dropped dead of a massive heart attack. My poor mother was a widow at 29.
During the 1970s, people did not talk about depression and did not get involved in anyone’s business, so she and I did the best that we could. Looking back, I can see that we were surrounded by people trying to help us from a distance. It was a hard time.
The Line That Led Down the Street
The day finally came when I met my ‘real’ grandparents, the Roberts family. They lived just down the road and had my entire life. My friends at school went to church with them; their parents grew up with my real dad, and everyone knew them except me.
I remember the first day I knocked on the door of the little house with the green shingles on 9th Street. The house I had passed and looked at my entire life, not knowing who was behind the door. They were quite surprised to see me at their door but very sweetly invited me inside. That is when I got a glimpse of him; he was in the kitchen. The man who was once married to my mother and was my birth father locked eyes with me and immediately headed out the back door. I could see the pain in my grandmother’s face, but she presented a smile and visited with me as if nothing had happened.
I would often stop out of the blue to visit with my grandparents. Every time I walked through that front door, I could see into the kitchen, and he would walk out the back door. Over the years, I have built beautiful relationships with many family members from that side. My grandmother was a saint and one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Our time together was brief, but I will always cherish the memories.
Growing up, I thought I had a remarkable life. Picking blackberries, riding bikes, fishing, and playing sports with my uncles seemed like a child’s dream. It never occurred to me that things were not good because so many people loved me. My poor uncles, who lived in virtual hell, chose to stay outside with me, protecting us all from more nightmares.
Thus, a few months ago, a dear friend who went to school with my ‘real dad’ told me, “I am sorry he disowned you. You didn’t deserve that.” I did not hesitate to respond, “My life was awesome without him. If he would’ve been around, no telling how messed up I would’ve been.”
The little house with the green shingles has been torn down. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts passed, and the family was never whole. The man who shall not be named still exists. He still denies I was ever born, even though our paths cross from time to time. Through the efforts of several amazing people, I was able to get the front door that hung on the house on 9th Street while they were tearing it down. My heart is pierced with love for the man who chose to be my daddy. Daddy, Fay Blount, taught me to fish, cherish family, and look forward to going out the door. I am thankful for all the devoted people who have stood up and stepped up: teachers, preachers, friends, fathers of friends, and mostly my amazing uncles.
No More Lines
I am equally thankful that a man who was ‘supposed’ to be there for me was always going out the door when he saw me. His absence has been a tremendous blessing, and I cannot imagine my life had he stayed in it. My mother never spoke ill of him, and I have been allowed to love everyone.
Growing up without a birth father around does not have to be a bad thing. I grew up surrounded by love by so many people that it never occurred to me that I was missing out on something. (Other than more toys) Each Father’s Day, as I think about my childhood, I think about the mother who allowed me to love and be thankful for two men who were going out the door. One because he wanted nothing to do with me and one because he wanted to show me the world.
Going Out The Door was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me.
P.S. The Door has now been refurbished and has found a new home on the wall in my office of GoingOutTheDoor.com
Thank you to the men who did not have to love me for helping me make this possible. Mike and Johnny for swaying Fred to give it to me. Dave and Jake for refurbishing it. The Barber boys for installing it. And then, my sweet husband, who stood by me for months to see this through. Ya, it was a deal.
Attacking adventures, searching for amazing food, and finding new friends. Home in Branson, MO, or exploring Disney, I am searching for deals, finding new experiences, and sharing stories along the way.